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posted on 06.04.2021, 07:41 authored by Bing Zeng, Peide Huang, Peina Du, Xiaohui Sun, Xuanlin Huang, Xiaodong Fang, Lin Li

Esophageal squamous cell cancer (ESCC) is the eighth most common cancer around the world. Several reports have focused on somatic mutations and common germline mutations in ESCC. However, the contributions of pathogenic germline alterations in cancer susceptibility genes (CSGs), highly frequently mutated CSGs, and pathogenically mutated CSG-related pathways in ESCC remain unclear. We obtained data on 571 ESCC cases from public databases and East Asian from the 1000 Genomes Project database and the China Metabolic Analytics Project database to characterize pathogenic mutations. We detected 157 mutations in 75 CSGs, accounting for 25.0% (143/571) of ESCC cases. Six genes had more than five mutations: TP53 (n = 15 mutations), GJB2 (n = 8), BRCA2 (n = 6), RECQL4 (n = 6), MUTYH (n = 6), and PMS2 (n = 5). Our results identified significant differences in pathogenic germline mutations of TP53, BRCA2, and RECQL4 between the ESCC and control cohorts. Moreover, we identified 84 double-hit events (16 germline/somatic double-hit events and 68 somatic/somatic double-hit events) occurring in 18 tumor suppressor genes from 83 patients. Patients who had ESCC with germline/somatic double-hit events were diagnosed at younger ages than patients with the somatic/somatic double-hit events, though the correlation was not significant. Fanconi anemia was the most enriched pathway of pathogenically mutated CSGs, and it appeared to be a primary pathway for ESCC predisposition. The results of this study identified the underlying roles that pathogenic germline mutations in CSGs play in ESCC pathogenesis, increased our awareness about the genetic basis of ESCC, and provided suggestions for using highly mutated CSGs and double-hit features in the early discovery, prevention, and genetic counseling of ESCC.

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